Flying Nun Records
Founded1981 (1981)
FounderRoger Shepherd
GenreIndie pop
Indie rock
Country of originNew Zealand

Flying Nun Records is an independent record label formed in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1981 by music store manager Roger Shepherd.[1] Described by The Guardian as "one of the world's great independent labels", Flying Nun is notable for bringing global attention to the Dunedin sound, a cultural and musical movement in early 1980s Dunedin, which gave rise to modern indie rock.[2]


The label formed in the wake of a flurry of new post-punk-inspired labels appearing in New Zealand in the early 1980s, in particular Propeller Records in Auckland. Shepherd had intended to record the original local music of Christchurch, but soon the label rose to national prominence by championing the emerging music of Dunedin.

"Ambivalence" by The Pin Group (the first band of Roy Montgomery) was the first release from Flying Nun, although "Tally Ho" by The Clean was the first release to draw public attention to the label, as it unexpectedly reached number nineteen in the New Zealand charts, bringing the label unanticipated profile and income. There followed the seminal Dunedin Double, a release which cemented the place of the southern city in the forefront of New Zealand independent music. Flying Nun moved into the full-length album market in 1982 with the Ego Gratification Album by Chris Knox and Beatin Hearts by Builders (recorded 1982, Auckland).

Many of New Zealand's most prominent kiwi rock and alternative bands have signed to Flying Nun at some stage in their careers. In 2000 Australian youth radio network Triple J produced a list of the thirty "Greatest New Zealand acts of all time", twenty of them by Flying Nun artists. The label has been home to various styles of music, including the much-debated Dunedin sound, "high-end pop with a twist", lo-fi experimentation, strongly Velvet Underground-influenced pop, minimalism, industrial, and rock-electronic crossover.

In 1999 Matthew Bannister of The Sneaky Feelings wrote Positively George Street: A Personal History of the Sneaky Feelings and the Dunedin Sound, covering the New Zealand music industry of the 1980s, including Flying Nun.

In 1990 Festival Records bought a fifty-percent stake in Flying Nun, and then in 2000 merged it with Mushroom Records, bringing Flying Nun into the Festival-Mushroom Records family of companies. Warner Music Group acquired Flying Nun as part of its purchase of FMR (Festival Mushroom Records) in 2006.[1] A consortium that included Shepherd bought back the label from Warner on 21 December 2009, for "more than what I sold it for".[1] New Zealand musician Neil Finn, his wife Sharon, and another business partner together own a quarter-share in the repatriated record label.[3]

In 2013, American label Captured Tracks announced plans for selected reissues of Flying Nun's back catalogue.[4]

In the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours Shepherd was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the music industry.[5]

Roster, early 1980s to mid-1990s

Roster from the mid-1990s

Since the mid-1990s many of the original stable of artists have split up or moved to other labels, including Xpressway Records (Port Chalmers, New Zealand), Arch Hill Recordings (Auckland), Powertool Records (Auckland), South Indies, Paris or Matador Records (United States). A similarly eclectic new generation of bands is signed to Flying Nun, including:


Flying Nun also released compilations of a cross-section of its artists. These are now the only easy-to-find documents of certain featured artists.

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ a b McNeilly, Hamish (23 December 2009). "Founder re-acquires Flying Nun after ten years". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  2. ^ "Flying Nun Records: 10 of the best songs of the Dunedin sound". the Guardian. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  3. ^ Hume, Tim (21 February 2010). "Finn helps finance rebirth of Flying Nun cult record label". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
  4. ^ "Flying Nun to partner with Captured Tracks". 2013. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  5. ^ McDonald, Liz (4 June 2018). "Anti-establishment Flying Nun founder just wanted to get music on the record". The Press. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Various – Roger Sings the Hits". Discogs.